When I was 4, Mom and Dad decided I was too chubby. They were worried that I wouldn’t get married if I were fat. It’s amazing that they let me have this ice cream cone – it must have been a lawn party or something and Mom didn’t notice I had it. Anyway, at 4 they started me on my first diet and they switched their big meal of the day to noon, while I was at Japanese kindergarten. Dinner was a light meal of soup or eggs most nights.
I have no idea if I lost weight or not. I seem to be a pretty normal 5 year old. I do remember loving food – but my pleasant food memories are all from when I was AWAY from home…like when I went with our Japanese housemaid to her friend’s house. She made us thick slices of white toast on her hibachi. I was fascinated watching her turn the toast with chopsticks as it got golden brown. Slathered in butter, it was the best toast I ever had.
At age 7, we left Japan and moved to the US. We lived in Missouri for 6 months. I don’t remember much about Missouri except that there were snow drifts (cool!) I loved my summertime Weekly Reader (way cool!) and that one time, when I reached for a black olive from a small dish sitting on the counter, mom told me that olives were fattening and I shouldn’t eat them.
Maybe it’s just me…but looking at these pictures, I’m just not really seeing a girl with a huge weight problem, are you? I mean, an olive?
By 8, we were living in Oregon, near my grandparents. Grandma bribed me into dieting at that point, offering me a dollar for every pound I would lose. I remember only that $1 was a cool thing to get! Mom and Dad joined in and said they’d give me a dollar, too! $2 per pound! That was a ton of money back then!
I don’t remember if I lost weight or not. I also don’t remember feeling like I should be hurt or confused by all their attention on my body. The truth is, I think by the time I was 8, I already had accepted the lie that I had a big, fat problem, so it didn’t seem odd to me that they were desperate for me to lose weight. I do have a memory of being 5, and a friend of the family was trying to take pictures of me and I kept trying to hide behind a little bracelet I was playing with. I felt so fat and hoped the bracelet would hide part of my fatness…so yeah. I was already pretty indoctrinated by then.
I can’t blame it all on Mom and Dad. I was growing up in a land of teeeeeeny, tiny Japanese kids! Their arms were smaller, they were shorter, their legs were thinner, their shoulders less broad…why was I the only one this big? Funny that I never wondered why I was the only one with blond hair!
By 10, you can start to see the results of my parent’s obsession with my weight. Yup…I’m starting to get a little chunky by this point. I haven’t mentioned that my mom was also obsessed with desserts. I don’t remember a time when there weren’t at least 6 coffee cans FULL of various types of home-made cookies in the pantry in the basement. There was always a cake on the counter or a pie in the fridge. I, of course, wasn’t supposed to touch any of those things. My sister remembers it as being torture and she would cry for me, later in life, recalling the cruelty that went on in that little white parsonage – sweets everywhere for everyone but me. But I honestly don’t even remember feeling like it was unfair or strange. I truly had bought in, hook, line and sinker, to the fact that I had a problem.
At 12, I was put on the cow urine diet. I was injected once a week with some kind of something taken from cow piss and my diet was to consist of 2 cartons of yogurt per day (500 calories). I cheated MADLY on that diet. You’ve never seen a 12 year old so eager to offer to bring up the laundry from the BASEMENT (where all the cookies lived!) I literally was being starved. After 2 weeks and no weight loss, the doctor got really frigging pissed off at me and told me I was cheating and he couldn’t help a cheater. Red-faced and ashamed though I was, I was relieved as all hell that THAT diet was over.
13 – Stillman’s Diet, because…you know….EVERY teenager wants to take a boiled egg and broiled hamburger patty to the cafeteria! It’s so FUN to be different in 7th grade, right? I ate Kim Harman’s tuna-fish sandwich crusts every single day, but still lost 20lbs in 30 days on that diet – which was literally nothing but boiled eggs & broiled hamburger patties, for a month. Well, except blessings on Kim Harman for hating crusts! I was voted in as a cheer leader by the student body that year, BEFORE the stupid diet, so I can’t imagine I was all that fat. Junior High kids tend not to give the sympathy vote for fat kids.
Age 14 – Some crazy diet where we had to drive into Portland every week and pick up a box of nasty, disgusting frozen food. I just remember the “Pepper Steak” entrée that was like a rotted tire smothered in pepper.
15 – Exchange student to Japan. What kind of home do I live in for that year? Ha! A bakery!! They own a bakery for heaven’s sake…and the house is directly connected to the bakery. And my host mother plies me with cakes and cream puffs and rice crackers and I eat a whole bunch and gain enough weight that they have new clothes made for me because I can’t fit into any clothes at the store!!!! Yes. That is what 11 years of dieting will do to a person. When given the chance, the freedom and the encouragement…they will eat.
By high school, there were no more formal diets, because it was all just one long continual attempt to control hunger, followed by bursts of DAMN IT I WANNA EAT PIZZA TOOOOOOOOOO! And on and on and on it has gone on. Hideous obsession.
I have a lap band. I went to Mexico 5 years ago and let them put me under and open me up and mutilate my stomach to lose weight. I lost 35 lbs. I needed to lose 100 lbs. I’ve done low carb, no carb, moderate carb, no sugar, no white food, no fat, low fat, low calorie, very low calorie, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystems, Jenny Craig, HCG diet, vegan diets (gained 15 lbs in 2 months) sensible diets and jump on your head and eat flax seed while breathing through your nose diets. (I made that last one up.)
I danced 10 hours a week and ate one meal a day to lose weight. That actually worked for quite a while – almost 6 months! Eventually my weight loss stalled, of course, because it always does, and pounds started to drift back on. In fact, my body is now so beautifully, amazingly, incredibly adept at fighting a “famine” that a new diet now “works” for 10 to 14 days. After that, I get freezing cold, I go to bed with gnawing hunger and I lose nothing.
In the last 45 years I have never once managed to maintain my weight. I am either dieting or gaining. Those are my two states. And in 54 years, I have learned absolutely nothing. I am honestly disgusted to have to admit that I never learned that doing the same thing and expecting different results was stupid. In the last year, I’ve steadily and consistently put on 3 lbs per month. That’s a lot.
Last month, after trying low carb again for the umpteenth time and failing, I tried yet again with a raw milk diet. Nothing but raw milk and salads. I love milk and I could control EXACTLY how many calories would go into my pie hole, and it would be stress-free (no special cooking) and I would lose weight. 1000 calories a day. I was guaranteed weight loss! Week one I lost 4 lbs. I was so confident about this that I decided to go 2 weeks before weighing again. I mean…this was a NO-BRAINER! No sugar, no flour, no cookies, no cheats – just 1000 calories of clean, healthy, lovely milk. Who cares that I was feeling ravenous every night; I was going to overcome that, lose weight and BE HAPPY AT LAST!!!
Week 3 I stepped on the scale. I knew better than to expect miracles, but was hoping for a modest 2, maybe 3 lbs gone. I mean, it’s only 1000 calories. And that’s when my world completely changed, once and for all and forever and ever.
In two weeks, I gained the 4 lbs back, on 1000 calories a day. Net loss: zero.
I’m done. I don’t believe in it anymore. I’m really fat. I’m also smart, pretty, engaging, caring, warm, witty, fun-loving, inspiring, thoughtful, courageous, enterprising, empathic, resilient and really good at Boggle. My granddaughter Evey loves me. My daugther Katie loves me. You love me. And Lane Bryant is really gonna love me, because I need new clothes that fit!
So yeah…the next time you see me, if you’re wondering how I got so fat again…I believe the ugly but undeniable truth is that I have successfully dieted myself to this stage. The stage where you have to go to 900 calories a day to lose weight. Oh...until that stops working and you have to go to 800 calories. Yeah, you’re right - I could go all “Biggest Loser” and devote my life to 3 hours of exercise a day and pretend that I just LOVE broiled chicken wrapped in lettuce, but I’m not going to do that because in the end, I am a thousand percent convinced that it will just make me even fatter. I’m done. DONE.
When you see me next and I’m much bigger…well, maybe you can look on me the way I am going to look on me from this exact moment on – as a big, beautiful package of Ann.
For further evidence that diets/restriction/weight loss is, for some, the best way to gain weight: